Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi: Our Luxurious Stay

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi: Our Luxurious Stay

One of Vietnam’s most historically rich hotels, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is located in the center of busy and chaotic Hanoi. They opened their doors in 1901 and since then, the colonial style hotel has attracted more visitors to travel from all over the world. It has become one of South East Asia’s most iconic hotels, and it’s also the oldest operating hotel in Vietnam. There are many amazing hotels in Hanoi, but Sofitel Hanoi is the place to stay if you are looking for a luxurious stay. It has many fascinating features for visitors, including elegant rooms, great restaurants, and a variety of amazing amenities.


Access to Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

One of the highlights of the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi was their central location to downtown. Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is a calm oasis, located in the center of the Old Quarter, but it is just far enough away that it maintains its tranquility. It is in close proximity and walkable to almost everything! It is just next to Hoan Kiem Lake and the Opera House, and the ice cream shop down the street was delicious. While walking around the lake, crowds of people were gathering to enjoy the warm night air and lively night life. Vendors lined the streets selling souvenirs, sweets, drinks, and a variety of goods. There are also countless stylish cafes, restaurants, and shops surrounding the area. We took a taxi from the hotel to Not Bai International Airport (Hanoi Airport). It took us 30-40 minutes to get there, and it costed us around $30USD.


Room

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Sofitel Legend Metropole is divided into 2 wings: the historical Metropole Wing and the newer Opera Wing. There are 364 rooms and suites. You’d probably wonder which room you should choose between, the Historical Wing or the Opera Wing. The Historical Wing is inspired by vintage French architecture infusing local Vietnamese culture, while the Opera Wing is more modern and chic. It is heavily influenced by classic French architecture. The staff informed us that Westerners tend to choose the Historical Wing, while Asians tend to prefer the Opera Wing. 

The interior of our room was classic and elegant. The bed was large, and the atmosphere was welcoming and easy to feel at home. The desk and the couch also made a great place for reading and relaxing after a long day. My favorite was the bathroom. I loved the huge and luxurious bathtub. Their amazing service made our luxurious stay more enjoyable as well. We were fortunate enough to be welcomed with chocolates and dry fruit from the management staff as well. 🙂


Dining

You have so many dining options in Metropole Hanoi, that you will never run out of new restaurant options! There are 2 astonishing restaurants: LE BEAULIEU (exquisite French cuisine) and Spices Garden (Vietnamese cuisine redefined with French flair). There are also 4 unique bars: Angelina (Cocktail Bar – Whisky Lounge – Restaurant), Le Club Bar, La Terrasse, and Bamboo Bar. Our favorite restaurant was Spices garden, and our favorite bar was Angelina.

Breakfast

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

The breakfast buffet was phenomenal. There were varieties of bread, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and even sweets. They serve both French and Vietnamese cuisine for breakfast. Everything was delicious, but I fell in love with their Eggs Benedict. The eggs were perfectly cooked, and the sauce was creamy and rich. It was definitely one of the top 3 I’ve ever had! Their coffee exceeded expectations as well. We ordered a cappuccino every morning, and they brought refills promptly upon request. The breakfast buffet is served at Le Beaulieu, Spices Garden, and La Terrasse at Metropole Hanoi, but I recommend the restaurant “La Terrasse” for the atmosphere and slightly different selection.

Dinner

We had dinner at the Spices Garden restaurant, and it was an amazing experience at Metropole Hanoi. They serve a variety of Vietnamese cuisine. We absolutely loved sampling the different tastes that we were typically not accustomed to. Our favorite dish was probably the Bun Cha. Bun Cha is a Vietnamese dish of grilled fat pork and noodle. It was served with herbs and fresh and slightly spicy dipping sauce. If you haven’t tried it, then it should be at the top of your list in Vietnam!

Bar

Angelina Bar at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

We had a couple of drinks at Angelina Bar. Although Angelina is famous for its world-class whisky collections, we tried their modern and traditional cocktails. The bar was definitely a big plus for luxurious hotel in Hanoi. Both cocktails were very fresh and delicious. The atmosphere was modern, yet elegant and it was a perfect spot for a date night. They also offer a vast amount of cigars to pair with their whiskey selection, however we decided to opt out from this experience.


Amenities

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

The hotel offers a heated swimming pool, an exclusive club lounge, a luxury fitness center, and a private spa. We especially loved spending our time at the pool. We had snacks and drinks there, but some people enjoyed having their brunch. The atmosphere was cozy and perfect for luxurious stay. The pool area was a illuminated during the evening, and it offered a wonderfully romantic touch. I definitely recommend having a couple of drinks at the poolside after a long day.


Conclusion

All things considered, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is definitely one of Vietnam’s most luxurious places to stay. The facility retains such an intimate and old fashioned charm, and the staff was excellent.  From the moment we arrived, we were amazed by their incredible customer service despite having to accommodate such a large number of guests. Beautiful pool, bars, and the courtyard were also a delightful addition to our time in Hanoi. We especially enjoyed taking photos around the common areas and resting by the poolside late at night. The accommodation, staff, and the overall experience was 5 star plus. We can’t wait to visit again in the future and can highly recommend Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi if you are looking for a luxurious hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam.

If you want to check out more luxury hotels in Asia, click the link here



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**Disclaimer: We received complimentary and discounted hotel services in order to review Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and its services; however, this article contains only our own honest thoughts and opinions. We did not receive any financial compensation for the writing of this post, do not work for Sofitel Plaza Hanoi, and receive no commission for any hotel bookings.**

Myanmar Travel Guide: 10 things to know before you visit

Myanmar Travel Guide: 10 things to know before you visit

You want to go to Myanmar, but you don’t know what to expect? For someone like you, this Myanmar Travel Guide should be a big help! Ever since they opened their door to the tourism, I had always wanted to see Myanmar. Since 2012 tourism has continuously increased, and it is expected to hit  7.5 million tourists by 2020.

People always ask questions like, “Is it safe to go to Myanmar?” In my experience, the answer is yes. However, like any any other country there are many rules and cultural norms tourists should follow. If you are planning to explore this mysterious land in the near future, here is the Myanmar Travel Guide for you! I listed 10 things you should know before you visit Myanmar.


Tourist Visa

Myanmar Travel Guide

You will need a tourist visa before going to Myanmar (Some countries are exempt from this requirement). Getting a visa seems time-consuming and lots of paperwork, however it became a lot easier because you can apply for an e-Visa online since 2014. The only things you need to prepare to apply for the visa are ①passport, ②your picture, and ③credit card. You can apply through the website here. The application fee is $50 (USD). Once your application is acknowledged, you will get an authorization via email. Just keep in mind that e-Visa is only valid for a single entry. Re-entry will require a new visa.


Dress modestly

Myanmar Travel Guide

Be mindful that you need to dress appropriately and modestly when you visit any of the Pagodas in Myanmar. Although a pagoda such as Shwedagon Pagoda has become a huge tourist attraction, it is the most important religious site in Myanmar. Men and women are both required to wear clothing that covers the knees. Also shoulders should not be exposed, and you want to avoid tight or revealing clothing as well. Dress modestly is the most important etiquette for visiting pagodas in Myanmar. It is easy to wear shorts for hot climates, but remember to show your respect. 🙂

If you want to learn more about Shwedagon Pagoda, check out the article here.


Bring Wet Wipes

You think why? You are expected to be barefoot when entering pagodas in Myanmar. Many pagodas require you to remove your shoes, socks, and stockings at the entrance. It might be better to bring wet wipes so you can wipe your feet after exploring in bare feet. Some of the pagodas permit footwear though. If you do not know what to do, observe the locals. If they keep their footwear on, you may do so.


Thanaka

Myanmar Travel Guide

Thanaka is a cream colored organic paste, made from ground bark. The Burmese use thanaka to protect the skin from the sun, and they usually apply it to the face.  In addition to protecting the skin, thanaka also cools the skin in hot weather. According to Wikipedia, the Burmese have used thanaka since the 14th century. That’s a long history, isn’t it! Not everyone applies thanaka, but you’ll see most females and many boys do while you stay in Myanmar. Since thanaka is also believed to lighten the skin and works against acne, it is recommended as your souvenir from Myanmar.


Street Food

Myanmar Travel Guide

One of the best ways to get a taste of a city is through eating street food, don’t you agree? With influences from all its neighbors; India, China, and Thailand, the cuisine of the Burmese truly is diverse. Some of the street food you want to try are Mohinga (rice-noodle dish served in a fish broth), samosa salad, and tea leaf salad. I also found their stool seating so interesting. The table and chair are so tiny, and they are usually colorful. Eating on the side of the road, sitting on a micro plastic stool, is definitely a unique experience.


Best Season to Visit

Myanmar Travel Guide

The dry season and the best time of year to visit Myanmar are between November and April. Between November and February, it is cold and dry, with average monthly temperatures between 20°C and 24°C. Between March and April, temperatures get between 30°C and 35°C. The rainy season of Myanmar is between May and October with average temperatures between 25°C and 30°C.  My husband and I visited Myanmar in September. It rained most of the days while we stayed, so I recommend you avoid the rainy season.


Get New US dollar bills

Myanmar Travel Guide

Burmese are extremely particular about the quality of US dollars. A lot of them will not accept US dollars unless they are clean and crisp. Trust me, this happened to us even at one of the most famous sights, Shwedagon Pagoda. Since most of the places do not take credit cards, I recommend you exchange money at reputable places like the airport and hotels beforehand. When exchanging, the higher the denomination of your US Dollar, the better the exchange rate.


Longyi

Myanmar Travel Guide

A longyi is around 2 meters long, and it’s worn around the waist, running to the feet. It looks like a bit of long skirt, but it is common for both men and women to wear in Myanmar. Myanmar is a conservative country and the locals prefer covering the skin, so longyi is a perfect item to wear. It actually also allows those who wear it to stay cool in the heat of the climate as well. If you want to try them on, I definitely recommend you check out the local market such as Bogyoke market in Yangon. There are plenty of choices. The picture is my husband wearing longyi at Shwedagon Pagoda.


Street Dogs

Myanmar Travel Guide

Street dogs are everywhere in Myanmar. It is common to see street dogs in South East Asia, and I saw many while I traveled countries, such as Vietnam and Thailand. So it was not a surprise to see them everywhere in Myanmar, but… compared to the size of dogs in other SE Asian countries, the street dogs in Myanmar tend to be huge. They are usually sleeping and not aggressive at all, but you need to be mindful as a dog bite can be dangerous. I would suggest not carrying food while walking on the streets, and you want to avoid dark streets at night where you can be surrounded by street dogs. Also, watch your step so as not to stand on the tails of the dogs.


British Architecture

Myanmar Travel Guide

If you go to a city like Yangon, you will notice that a lot of buildings were heavily influenced by British architecture. There are unique touches of buildings in disrepair with moss and shrubs growing out of every nook and cranny. Colorful and chaotic, the buildings make it a feast for the senses. It is worth visiting their vibrant life that spills out of people’s homes and onto the streets. You will never get bored of the sights you will encounter, especially the crowds of people.


Conclusion

These 10 things are what I learned based on my experience, and I believe some of these make the country so unique and fascinating! I totally fell in love with Myanmar, and I hope to return in the future. I’m sure you will find something new and interesting while you stay in the country as well. If you are debating whether to go to Myanmar, why not!! I am sure you will have an amazing time. I hope this Myanmar Travel Guide will help you for your future travels.

In the meantime, if you want to know where to go and what to see in Yangon, check out the article here.


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Winter in Japan: Why you should visit Shirakawago

Winter in Japan: Why you should visit Shirakawago

If you want to experience amazing winter scenery in Japan, you need to visit Shirakawago. Shirakawago is in Japan’s mountainous Gifu Prefecture. Gifu is located in the center of Japan, and it has many popular tourist attractions, bringing visitors from all over the world. Gifu is famous for its hot spring, historical streets, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shirakawa’s historic village. The historical village in snow was the prettiest scenery I had ever seen. In my opinion, winter is the best season to visit Shirakawago. Through this article you will find out what to expect and where to explore the neighborhood.

What to Expect

Shirakawago winter

Shirakawago is a beautiful historic village, and it is actually one of the UNESCO world heritage sites. They are famous for their traditional farmhouses, and some of them are more than 250 years old. Their houses are known for their “prayer hands construction” style, which resembles the A-frame roofs as if hands join for prayer. This design helps the snow slide off easily. The winter scenery with all those houses is out of a fairytale, and every photo you take will be a piece of art.

How to Go

From Tokyo to Shirakawago

Tokyo to Shirakawago


From Osaka to Shirakawago

Osaka to Shirakawago

If you want to travel from either Tokyo or Osaka, it might be easiest to go to Nagoya first by either a bullet train or a highway bus. Then take a bus from Nagoya to Shirawakago. From Nagoya it usually takes 2 hours and 30 minutes to arrive in Shirakawago.

What to Prepare

Shirakawago winter

I visited Shirakawago in January, and temperatures were cold and skies were cloudy. It snowed while we stayed and the road became icy. Be mindful if you are planning to drive around. Although the weather was not ideal, the place was crowded with many tourists. Due to the fairytale landscape, winter is the most popular season to visit Shirakawago. Make sure you dress warm and take care of your steps during the snowy day. If you want no crowds at all, I would recommend visiting around 9AM. It usually gets crowded with tourists by the afternoon.

As temperatures vary, depending on the season in Shirakawago, you should definitely check the forecast beforehand to decide when to visit.  Here are the temperatures for each season. I hope you find it useful.

  • Spring: 9°C to 22°C
  • Summer: 18°C to 31°C
  • Fall: 9°C to 20°C
  • Winter: -5°C to 3°C


What to Eat

Hida beef skewer in Shirakawago

There are several shops selling old-fashioned Japanese sweets and the local food. My favorite local food is mitarashi dango and rice crackers.  I definitely recommend you try mitarashi dango (skewered rice balls covered with soy sauce and sugar), rice crackers, and Hida beef skewer. The shops in the area are typically open daily from 11AM to 5PM.

Where to explore (neighborhood)

Takayama Old Town

If you are in Shirakawago, you also want to visit Takayama Old Town. The town reminds me of Gion, Kyoto but I like Takayama more because many shops have been running their business for hundreds of years, and it makes you feel you were back in their older times. Plus it is less crowded than Kyoto. The village is well preserved, and the buildings here are like the ones you see in old Japanese dynasty movies. It’s like heaven for people who are big history buffs or simply love to take pictures.  While admiring the old wooden architecture and historical streets, you will encounter lots of nice restaurants, which serve grilled Hida beef, ramen, sushi, ice cream, and many more appetizing treats!!  There are many gift shops for souvenirs as well.  It is a beautiful street to stroll while you eat delicious local food.

I hope this article is helpful for your future travels to Shirakawago. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! 🙂

xo


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New Year’s Day in Japan

New Year’s Day in Japan

Western people tend to spend the New Year’s Day going out with friends, but Japan is definitely more relaxing and traditional. In Japan, starting off the New Year is much more about spending time with family than it is about partying. Celebrating new year is a time of a year when people go back to their hometowns and eat traditional Japanese food such as “Osechi” with the family. I want to introduce what Japanese people tend to do on celebrating the New Year in Japan!

Traditional Food

“Osechi Ryori”

Japanese New Year traditional food

Osechi Ryori is traditional Japanese food for New Year’s day. Similar to bento boxes, they come in a different kinds of colorful dishes packed together. Every dish has special meaning in welcoming New Year, and it is one of the most important meals of the year.

The entire family shares 3-5 layers of Osechi. People usually eat Osechi Ryori as breakfast, and they start drinking Sake in the morning as well. Whenever I go back to Japan to celebrate, my parents always prepare for Osechi Ryori and nice sake for me and younger brother.

“Sukiyaki”

Japanese New Year traditional food

Sukiyaki is a special kind of hotpot, and Japanese people tend to eat for a special occasion, such as New Year’s day. It consists of thinly sliced beef which is slowly cooked in a sweet and salty soy sauce, alongside vegetables and tofu. Japanese people tend to use good quality of beef, and they usually dip the food in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs. It is definitely one of my favorite Japanese traditional food.

“Ozoni”

Japanese New Year traditional food

Ozoni is a special soup that Japanese people eat for New Year’s morning. Japanese people tend to eat with Osechi. Although the preparation for Ozoni is different based on household and region, it usually includes mochi and variety of vegetables. What differentiates is their soup. In Kansai region, Ozoni consists of a clear soup with dashi and soy sauce. In Kanto region, Ozoni consists of white miso.

Traditional Activity

“Hatsumōde”

Hatsumode - traditional activity in Japan

Most of shrine and temple present Hatsumode across Japan on New Year’s Day. Many Japanese people tend to visit of the first, second, or third day of January. If you are in Japan during New Year, I recommend you experience the crowds of festivities. You will enjoy exploring a festive atmosphere with food stands. It is also traditional to purchase lucky charms for a fortunate new year.

“Otoshidama”

Otoshidama -  - traditional activity in Japan

Otoshidama is a Japanese traditional custom that adults give children money in the family.  If you are living in Japan and have children in the house, you should know about this Japanese tradition. Since many children will buy the toys with otoshidama, this is the biggest highlight of New Years for most of the Japanese children. Money is in small envelopes, and the amount given depends on the child’s age. It varies from 500yen to 10,000yen.

“Kakizome”

Kakizome -  - traditional activity in Japan

Kakizome is a Japanese tradition for the first calligraphy written at the beginning of the year. It is believed that if you write down your resolution on a piece of paper you are most likely to achieve that goal. Kakizome is one way to clear your mind and focus on expressing your determination using your favorite Kanji characters.

YAY! So now you learned something new about new year’s day in Japan! I hope you enjoyed the article, and let me know if there’s any questions!! 🙂

Finding more about Japan?

Tokyo Ultimate Guide

7 Things to Do in Tokyo at Night



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Cool things to do in Tokyo

Cool things to do in Tokyo

Here is the list of cool things to do in Tokyo! As I grew up in Japan I visited Tokyo many times, but I fall in love with it more and more each time I visit. If you want to know more about Tokyo attractions, check out my travel guide here (introducing non touristy things to do in Tokyo) and here (best places to eat in Tokyo).

Tokyo is Japan’s capital city and the world’s most popular metropolis. What I love about Tokyo is that the city offers both modern and ancient neighborhoods. In Tokyo, you will have an unlimited choice of shopping, dining, entertainment, and culture.

Since more than 13.8 million people live in Tokyo, it gets a bit overwhelming for visitors… But don’t worry, this Tokyo travel guide should help you with what to see, where to eat, and where to stay. I listed all top cool things you must do while you are in Tokyo.


Place to Go

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower is the second tallest structure in Japan and it is the iconic tower of Tokyo.  If you want to enjoy the perfect view of Tokyo Tower, I definitely recommend you visit the Seaside Top Observatory. They offer super reasonable prices, compared to other observatories. The entry fee is 620yen while others, such as Tokyo City View, charges you 1,800yen. In addition to the bargain, this place is not very crowded and there is a large area on top that you can sit down to relax while enjoying the gorgeous view. A 360 degree view of Tokyo definitely helps you better understand the layout of Tokyo, and you can even see Tokyo Skytree as well. My personal recommendation is to get here about an hour before sunset, so you can pick out the best cool spot to get a great shot of Tokyo Tower. It is magical to see as the sunlight slowly disappears leaving a beautiful silhouette of Tokyo Tower.

Shibuya

Shibuya Scramble Crossing
Shibuya

Shibuya is a popular district for young Japanese people, and it is known as one of the most popular fashion centers of Japan. There are many things to do in Shibuya, such as shopping, dining, and going to nightclubs, but I want to list 2 things you cannot miss while you are there.

The first place is Shibuya Scramble Crossing. Shibuya Scramble Crossing is such a cool Tokyo’s iconic intersection. Walking against the surging waves of people is quite an experience in itself. I have countless friends and relatives who have all been impacted by the sight as there is nowhere quite like it. You can also take a picture of the iconic crossing from one of the surrounding cafes.

The second place is Shibuya Hikarie. If you want to take an amazing photo of Shibuya, go to the 11th floor of Shibuya Hikarie. It offers an excellent view of the scramble crossing and of the neighborhood. It is also accessible free of charge (YAY).

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine is located just beside the busy Harajuku Station, however it makes you feel like you are far away from the hustle and bussle of stereotypical Tokyo. Since the area is covered by an evergreen forest, the atmosphere is very fresh and inspiring. It is a nice place to spend some time relaxing while you enjoy the peacefulness of the surrounding nature. Meiji Shrine is open sunrise to sunset, and the admission is free. Some people also use Meiji Shrine for traditional wedding ceremonies. If you are interested, try visiting there on Sunday mornings. It is a great photo opportunity for sure. 

Harajuku

Tokyu Plaza

Harajuku is definitely a center of Japanese youth culture and fashion. If you are looking for kawaii and to experience the fashion capital, this place is for you! What I like about Harajuku is that there are many independent boutiques and stylish cafes. You will definitely find an interesting place to shop or dine, but one of the places you cannot miss in Harajuku is Tokyu Plaza.  There are plenty of shops and places to eat, and it is famous for the impressive entrance… It is such a cool photogenic spot in Tokyo! It also has a great roof-top garden, so it is a nice place to relax and take a break from a long day of shopping.

Shinjuku

Shinjuku
Shinjuku

This is where the heart of Tokyo comes alive. You will find yourself surrounded by karaoke, an assortment of clubs, and restaurants that are open until 2-4 in the morning. If you want to enjoy the nightlife of Tokyo, Shinjuku is the place for you. There are shopping centers, movies theaters, cafes, and even a famous robot restaurant. One of my favorite areas in Shinjuku is Piss Alley. I know that the name is weird things to hear, but it’s such a cool spot in Tokyo! It is a narrow street filled with small shops offering a variety of Japanese food and drinks. There are many different restaurants to choose from, and the menus you find here are unique and authentic at the same time. Even if you choose not to eat, it is worth a visit to experience real local culture and immerse yourself in a part of Tokyo’s history.

If you want to know more about Tokyo’s nightlife, read my article about 7 things to do in Tokyo at night.


Where to Eat

Aoyama Flower Market Teahouse 

Aoyama Flower Market Tea House

If you’re planning on having afternoon tea in Tokyo, this is the place!!!  The atmosphere is amazing, and the food is always fresh and delicious. The interior is nicely decorated with seasonal flowers as if you’re sitting in a beautiful garden.  We ate the warm salad, and it was amazing!(Trust me!) It perfectly matched with the beautiful floral theme, too.  I am usually a coffee person, but I highly recommend foregoing your coffee fix for a day and trying Aoyama Flower Market’s tea! Just keep in mind that you may have to be in line for up to 90 mins, depending on how crowded it is. Lunch is served between 11am and 3pm, and the price you should expect to spend is between 2,000yen and 3,000yen.

Address: 5-1-2 Minamiaoyama, Minato, Tokyo

Luke’s Lobster

It was cold and snowing when I went to Luke’s Lobster, but their lobster rolls made my day better! It is a bit overpriced in my opinion, but the amount of lobster meat is generous.  The bun itself is pretty delicious with a warm, crispy outer layer. Although it was not very crowded when I visited, my friend told me that you have to be in line for more than an hour sometimes…  So be prepared to wait in line or avoid the lunch time or weekend. The price is approximately 950yen to 2,000yen.

Address: 6-7-1 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Craftale

Craftale Tokyo
Craftale Tokyo

There are about 234 Michelin Stars restaurants in Tokyo, and Craftale is one of them. However, what differentiates this restaurant is their creativity and cost performance.  Each dish was beautifully plated and contained a surprising combinations of flavors.  Every plate was phenomenal, but my absolute favorite was the steak! They cooked the beef perfectly. Also, the atmosphere is very relaxing and comfortable… you can even see beautiful cherry blossoms from the window in the spring. If you are looking for a cool restaurant in Tokyo, here is the place for you. Just keep in mind that they serve lunch only on the weekend. Since it is a pretty popular restaurant, reservations are recommended. The price you’ll possibly spend there is between 7,000yen and 15,000yen.

Address: 1-16-11 2F, Aobadai,Meguro, Tokyo

Reissure 

Reissure

If you come to this place, you must try their 3D latte art!  You need to pay extra for the 3D latte art (I had a cup of cappuccino (650yen) + 3D latte art (additional 500yen)), but it was definitely worth it. If you want customized latte art, be prepared to show a picture to the server. They will make your latte, based on the picture you have! You can also have lunch there as well. Their food was good but the portion was a bit small. Just keep in mind that they do NOT accept credit card. People usually spend around 1,000yen to 2,000yen in Reissure.

Address: 3-25-7 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

Motsuyaki Uchan

Motsuyaki Uchan
Motsuyaki Uchan

Motsuyaki Uchan is located on the street called Piss Alley. The street gives you a glimpse of old Tokyo culture that’s a bit raw and off the tourist track. It is definitely a unique and cool area of Tokyo. The restaurant serves mostly yakitori and other grilled items along with local beer and drinks. The food is excellent and the ambiance is quite attractive. All yakitori is freshly grilled right in front of you, and they are some of the BEST yakitori I have ever had! Eating local food is one of the non touristy things to do in Tokyo. Even if you don’t plan to eat here, check it out for the aesthetics.  It is very photogenic. Just keep in mind that most of the restaurants accept CASH ONLY.

Address: Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo


Where to Stay

There are many cool hotels in Tokyo, especially around Tokyo metropolitan government building, but here are 2 of my favorites located in Toranomon Hills and Ginza.

Andaz Tokyo

Andaz Tokyo

This iconic, 5-star luxury lifestyle hotel is located between Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace.  From their 52 story skyscraper, they offer such an amazing view overlooking Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Bay. They also offer easy access to key locations, such as Ginza shopping district, Tokyo Station, and multiple temples.

Our favorite part of our stay was the amazing customer service – the staff are very friendly and go out of their way to offer recommendations and directions to various points of interest.  I have stayed in luxury hotels all over Japan, and I can honestly say that Andaz Tokyo is one of the most luxurious and beautiful properties I have ever stayed at. If you are looking for the best place to stay in Tokyo, you should definitely pay them a visit!

If you want to check out my full review of Andaz Tokyo, click here.

Average rates for a standard room: $451 – $1,303

Address: 1 Chome-23-4 Toranomon, Tokyo

Hyatt Centric Ginza

Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo is conveniently located in the center of Ginza, which allowed us to walk anywhere from countless department stores and restaurants to the famed Tsukiji Fish Market. It’s a very classic, modern, and super trendy hotel from the moment you step through the doors.

Besides the location, the most attractive aspect about this hotel is their artistic interior.  The lobby is very welcoming with natural light and high ceilings.  I fell in love with how they incorporated natural elements with such an artistic atmosphere. If you have plans to come to Tokyo anytime soon, I highly recommend staying at Hyatt Centric Ginza and spend time shopping around the area!

If you want to check out my full review of Hyatt Centric Ginza, click here.

Average rates for a standard room: $353 – $841

6 Chome-6-7 Ginza, Tokyo


Conclusion

I listed all the cool Tokyo attractions, but this travel tips are all based on my personal review and experience. If you are in Tokyo, it is a great way to soak in all kinds of traditional Japanese culture, learn about modern life in the city, and just enjoy exploring. You will find many kawaii cafes, stylish boutiques, and vibrant buildings. There’s seriously no place like Tokyo! There are more places to visit in Tokyo, but I hope this article will help you to organize an unforgettable time in Tokyo. If Tokyo has been on your bucket list, you must visit 🙂


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Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon is the former capital city of Myanmar, and it is one of Myanmar’s most busy and exciting cities.  But let’s be honest…how many people are actually interested in visiting Yangon? Maybe there are not many world famous things to do in Yangon, however there is no doubt you will fall in love with the city.  It is a perfect city to walk around on foot to see what there is to discover, eat, and love. The things I listed here are not everything you can do in the city, but these are a good start to begin exploring the exciting city!


What to Do

Shwedagon Pagoda

Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar
Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

If you are in Yangon, you must visit the 2,500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda.  Shwedagon pagoda, also known as the Golden Pagoda, is a stupa in the center of Yangon. The only reason I wanted to visit Yangon was to see this beautiful Pagoda, so I was super excited to be there. The Golden Pagoda was truly mesmerizing, and it was probably the most impressive Pagoda I’ve ever seen.  The opening hours are between 4AM and 10PM. Since the Pagoda gets crowded during the day and sunset, I suggest you visit at sunrise. The entrance fee is 10,000 Kyats per person. Just be mindful that visitors need to dress appropriately and modestly.  Trousers or at least knee length shorts or a skirt is required, and you are also expected to be barefoot when entering Shwedagon Pagoda.


Pansodan Street (Downtown Yangon)

Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar
Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

The buildings in Yangon were heavily influenced by British architecture, but there were unique touches of building’s in disrepair with moss and shrubs growing out of every nook and cranny. Colorful and chaotic, Yangon is a feast for the senses. It is undeniable that Yangon’s most iconic sight is Shwedagon Pagoda, what makes it worth visiting is their vibrant life that spills out of people’s homes and onto the streets.  The best way to explore downtown Yangon is by foot. You will never get bored of the sights you will encounter, especially the crowds of people 🙂


Bogyoke Market

Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

The market is to find anything from antique, Burmese handicraft, jewelry shops, art galleries, and clothing stores. Also, it is the best place to find your longyis. Longyis is sheet of cloth widely worn in Burma, and it is an appropriate cloth for visiting Pagoda in Myanmar. It is fun to wander around the central alleys and bargain with vendors. The market is open every day between 9 AM and 5PM.


Where to Eat

999 Shan Noodle Shop

Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

If you are looking for some local noodles, 999 Shan Noodle Shop is the place to be! This small restaurant is at a calm road just off a congested street in downtown. My husband ordered sticky Shan noodle, and I ordered basic chicken-base Shan noodle. Although both noodles were delicious, my favorite was their dumpling soup. The soup was refreshing, and each dumpling was juicy and flavorful. The people working there were friendly and attentive as well. If I go back to Yangon again, I will definitely visit again.

130b, 34th Street, Yangon, Myanmar


Rangoon Tea House

Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar
Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

Rangoon tea house is on Pansodan Street, and it is close to Sule Pagoda. If you are looking to experience an authentic tea house, the Rangoon Tea House is a must. The interior was classic yet comfortable. We were pleasantly surprised by their extremely spacious and comfortable atmosphere.  Even though there were many tables, it seemed like almost all tables were filled with customers.  There were many choices for food and drinks, and the menu was in all English. We wanted to try their food, but we decided to order tea and sweets since we were still full from Shan noodles (hehe).  The cake was big enough that we shared together. Although the service was a bit slow, there was free WiFi, which was a big plus!

77-79 Pansodan Rd (Lower Middle Block), Yangon, Myanmar


Where to Stay

The Strand Yangon

Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar
Exciting Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

Since Yangon is a big city, there are too many areas to choose to stay in. We ended up staying in downtown Yangon, and we made the right choice! We stayed at The Strand Yangon.  The Strand Yangon is an iconic and historical hotel. It was founded in 1901 and known as one of the most luxurious hotels in Myanmar.  There were only 32 suites available, and each suite is lavishly decorated with a colonial interior. The hotel staff were also very attentive and friendly everywhere we went in the hotel. It was such an excellent service with superb facilities.

If you want to check out my full review for the Strand Yangon, click here.



Conclusions

Above all, I hope this list gave you some ideas of where to go in Yangon, but one of the best ways to explore Yangon is to just immerse yourself in a thriving culture. I recommend you just walk around without any specific plans and enjoy learning about their beautiful culture. This city has tons of things to offer, and you will not be disappointed.

The breathtaking Pagodas, delicious Burmese food, and the extremely friendly people are some of the reasons why you should visit Yangon! If you have any questions or more suggestions about Yangon, I would love to hear. I hope you enjoyed this article 🙂



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The Strand Yangon: Luxury Hotel in Myanmar

The Strand Yangon: Luxury Hotel in Myanmar

We recently visited Yangon and had a chance to stay at The Strand Yangon ; one of the most luxurious hotels in Myanmar.  The 32-suite Strand Yangon was founded in 1901 and remains one of South East Asia’s few grand colonial hotels.  The hotel is located nearby famous Buddhist sites such as Shwedagon and Sule Pagoda.  It is also 30 minutes away from Yangon International Airport. The hotel staff were very attentive and friendly everywhere I went in the hotel. It was such an excellent service with superb facilities.  We haven’t experienced anything like Yangon before, and it didn’t take us long to fall in love with the city.


The Room

The suite we stayed in was very spacious and elegant. We stayed in the Superior Suite, which is a 55mSuite with high ceilings and beautiful mahogany furniture. The bed was comfortable for the two of us and the decorations give the feel of an executive room. There was complimentary tea and coffee served in the Suite at any time by our butler, and there was also a fully stocked mini bar and fridge. The bathroom was sophisticated, and their complimentary bath kit even included my favorite brand L’Occitane 🙂 (yay).

Yoki at the strand (1 of 1)
The Strand Yangon Room (1 of 1)
The Strand bath (1 of 1)
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Dining

The breakfast at the Strand Yangon was phenomenal. Their breakfast is a la carte, which means you can order anything from the menu as much as you would like. It was probably the best à la carte hotel breakfast we have ever experienced. The quality and presentation of the food seriously blew us away.

The dining room features original vintaged windows, with shiny flooring throughout, and lacquered fans hang from the high ceiling. The decoration and their service made me feel like I was a princess… (hehe) It was a great way to start off our day! 🙂

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The Strand Yangon Breakfast 2 (1 of 1)



Amenities

  • Swimming Pool
  • Therapy Rooms (Spa)
  • Fitness Room
  • Cocktail Bar

Their swimming pool was a perfect place to escape the bustle of the city, and it was so relaxing to just hang out.  The pool was right next to a tropical garden, so you can just wander around while drinking refreshing cocktails or fruit juices along with a variety of snacks.  We also loved Sarkies Bar at The Strand. There are a variety of cocktails, wine, and beer to choose from. I ordered my favorite cocktail, a mojito, and it was full of flavor!! The atmosphere of the bar was luxurious yet cozy.

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The Strand Yangon Bar (1 of 1)-2
The Strand Yangon Bar (1 of 1)



Overall

If you are in Yangon, this hotel is such a wonderful treat. The Strand Yangon is truly an oasis tucked in to the busy city.  From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, we had the most wonderful time at The Strand.  We have traveled around, but this hotel became one of our favorites! From the moment we walked in, until check out, we can honestly say we enjoyed every minute.   Our thanks go out to the wonderful staff, chefs, and beautiful decor and history incorporated with this hotel.  Hope this review will help you for your future references! Feel free to message me if you have any questions 🙂

If you want to check our the availability, click here .



Wanna know more about Myanmar? Check out the following articles 🙂

XOXO,

Yuki




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7 Things to Do in Tokyo at Night

7 Things to Do in Tokyo at Night

By the time sun goes down, maybe you are tired from the hustle and bustle…but trust me, there are MANY things to do in Tokyo at night!  The places I picked are for eating, drinking, shopping, or simply just taking in the night views.  Whether you are jet-lagged or simply can’t sleep from excitement, I have singled-out 7 of the best places to enjoy your Tokyo night.


Night Views in Tokyo

Seaside Top Observatory

If you want to enjoy iconic Tokyo Tower view, this place is for you!! What I like about the Seaside Top Observatory is their super reasonable price. The entry fee is 620yen while other observatories, such as Tokyo City View, charges you 1,800yen (!!!). In addition to the bargain, this place is not very crowded and there is a large area on top that you could sit down to relax while enjoying the gorgeous view.  A 360 degree view of Tokyo definitely helps you better understand the layout of Tokyo. My personal recommendation is to get here about an hour before sunset, so you can reserve the best spot to get a great shot of Tokyo Tower. It is magical to see as the sunlight slowly disappears leaving a beautiful silhouette of Tokyo Tower. 🙂


Ebisu Garden Place

Ebisu Garden Place is a perfect spot for a couple to spend their romantic nights. It is also very photogenic during the upcoming Christmas season.  With trees about 10 meters high decorating the street, and the warm light of the trees surrounding you, it creates a perfect Christmas atmosphere.  You will feel like a celebrity while walking this red carpet, and you will be greeted by a beautiful Chandelier at the end. (I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture!! T_T)



Food and Drink in Tokyo

Omoide Yokocho

If you want to spend a night the way locals do, this is the place for you! This narrow street is a hidden gem.  It is filled with small shops offering a variety of Japanese food and drinks. There are many different restaurants to choose from, and the menus you find here are unique and authentic at the same time.  Even if you choose not to eat, it is worth a visit to experience real local culture and immerse yourself in a part of Tokyo’s history.  I definitely recommend trying “Motsuyaki Uchan”!  They offer different varieties of skewers, and they’re reasonably priced for how delicious they are!!! There is no English menu, so I would suggest going with the chef’s recommendations.  Just keep in mind that it can be really crowded during the rush hours so plan accordingly.


Kabukicho

This is where the heart of Tokyo comes alive. You will find yourself surrounded by karaoke, an assortment of clubs, and restaurants that are open until 2-4 in the morning. Maybe you’ve already heard about Kabukicho, but if you don’t…there are also several “naughty” places behind closed doors. If you are looking for a place like that this is definitely for you. However Kabuki-cho is also a fun place to visit as a family.  There are shopping centers, movies theaters, cafes, and even a famous robot bar. Also Godzilla is lurking from the top of a building, and it is a great spot to take photos!  Some Japanese people (usually older people) say Kabuki-cho is dangerous, but the danger in this area is definitely overstated. Just be sure to choose your entertainment wisely. :O


Shinjuku Golden Gai

This place is just a few blocks away from Omoide Yokocho or Kabukicho.  There are many tiny bars along the street and they typically have intimate seating available for 6 people. In my opinion, Shinjuku Golden Gai is more of a tourist attraction compared to Omoide Yokocho, but it is a great place to meet new people from all over the world. There is definitely something utterly enchanting about having a few drinks there.  Since the bars are so small, people tend to be friendly and curious. Just be aware that some bars ask for a cover charge, so keep an eye out for the places that do not as there are plenty. 😉


Shimbashi

Shimbashi is basically known as the salaryman capital of Tokyo. It is decorated with rustic izakayas (bars) which offer cheaper food and drinks, and it can become rather crowded with local Japanese businessmen during rush hour.  A lot of izakayas may not offer English menus, but if you want to experience authentic Japanese bars then you are in the right place!  I highly recommend exploring during the day.  Some izakayas open early, so you can just relax and sightsee while avoiding the heavy crowds. Also, there are many photogenic places to enjoy taking photos! If you would like to stay around this area, check out here .


Night Shopping in Tokyo

Ginza

Ginza is most famous for their high-end designer shops. There are also a variety of smaller boutiques you can enjoy in a single day, and multiple cafes for when you need a rest.  Even if you don’t plan on spending any money, you will still enjoy the elegant atmosphere. I always enjoy visiting during the night! There are many restaurants to choose from in the malls as well as on the street, each of which are decorated with fascinating neon lighting. Ginza is also perfect for the Christmas season. With each year the popularity of Christmas increases in Japan which encourages decorations for a more exciting atmosphere.  You can visit every year and be impressed each time you go. Just keep in mind that most department stores and shops close around 8PM. If you plan to stay around this area, check out this hotel here.

I hope these places help you to decide your plans in Tokyo at night! You will never want to sleep in this exciting city. Have you been to Tokyo and found some interesting things to do? If so please comment here and share your experience with me! Feel free to message me if you have any questions!

XOXO,

Yoki



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Andaz Hotel Tokyo: Best Place to Stay in Tokyo

Andaz Hotel Tokyo: Best Place to Stay in Tokyo

This article is the hotel review for Andaz Hotel Tokyo.

During my most recent trip to Tokyo, I stayed at Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, and I would say that is the best place to stay in Tokyo! Growing up in Japan, I visited Tokyo multiple times and stayed at a variety of hotels, but I think I may have found my favorite. This iconic, 5-star luxury lifestyle hotel is located between Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace. From their 52 story skyscraper, they offer such an amazing view overlooking Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Bay. They also offer easy access to key locations, such as Ginza shopping district, Tokyo Station, and multiple temples including one I visited below, Zojo-ji.


The Room at Andaz Hotel Tokyo


The room is spacious and very well laid out with amazing views, especially at night. When the city started illuminating the atmosphere became so romantic. Unique wood decor also made us feel at home, and the bed and linen were extremely high quality. The bathroom had both a deep circular tub and a separate shower, and it was much more spacious than other 5-star quality hotels in Tokyo. One of my favorite parts of the room was that Andaz Hotel Tokyo offers snacks and non-alcoholic drinks for free in the room (YAY)!!! They also provide unlimited Wi-Fi with unlimited local calls, and they even provide a Handy smart phone equipped with internet that you can take with you while exploring the city. Nice isn’t it?

There are 10 different kinds of rooms and 3 different kinds of suites. We stayed at the room “2 Twin Beds with Tower View”. The room offered wide windows with a view of the iconic Tokyo Tower. Our beds were two double beds, and it was spacious and comfy to sleep in. If you want a bigger bed for yourself, there are multiple king room available. Standards rate for Andaz Tokyo is $546 per night, but it varies based on which room you choose.


Dining at Andaz Hotel Tokyo


If you want to experience a luxurious morning with delicious food and a gorgeous view, Andaz Hotel Tokyo is definitely the best place to be. The breakfast is served at the 51st floor, The Tavern, and the view is breathtaking. The breakfast buffet provides remarkable selections of Western and Asian cuisine. They offer a vast fruit selection, eggs cooked to order, and even a variety of pastries. You can also choose 2 items from the a la Carte menu. I tried the eggs Benedict on a croissant, and my friend chose blueberry pancakes. Both were delicious and cooked to perfection (and we can be food snobs at times, hehe).

Breakfast is open from 6:30am to 11am. During the evening, Andaz Tavern offers an exciting dining experience featuring local flavors and seasonal ingredients. Their specialty is Japanese Snow Aged Beef, and it’s a must to try!

Every evening between 6-8pm, there are complimentary wines, sake, and small snacks available in Andaz lounge. The atmosphere is quite relaxing, and it was rather soothing after a long day of walking and sightseeing.



AMENITIES at Andaz Hotel Tokyo

  • Swimming Pool
  • Spa
  • Fitness Center
  • Rooftop Bar


Pool facilities are large with additional amenities including a jacuzzi, hot tub, and even a cold pool!  The pool has a beautiful city view, and there’s a fitness center with excellent cardio equipment adjacent to it.  Andaz also houses a Rooftop Bar with amazing views overseeing the city.  They provide an extensive selection of cocktails, sake, champagne and premium spirits. Specializing in cocktails crafted with teas and seasonal fruit, the cocktail they made was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had! It was a must try!



Neighborhood around Andaz Hotel Tokyo

  • Tokyo Tower
  • Imperial Palace
  • Zojo-ji Temple
  • Shimbashi drinking street
  • Atago Shrine (historical shrine with steep staircase)


I went to Zojo-ji temple, Shimbashi, and Atago shrine. They were all fun to explore!  Although your travel schedule may be jam-packed with sights, Shimbashi is a must see if you want to experience true Japanese night life.  It is relatively close to Andaz Tokyo and within walking distance.


Zojo-ji Temple


Standing next to Tokyo Tower, the temple grounds consist of some impressive structures. Zojoji Temple may not be as well known compared to other temples and shrines, however it is worth a visit! It is a special experience to see the contrast between skyscrapers and wooden ancient building in one scene. Just allow yourself some time to explore around the gardens. It is very peaceful and you may forget that you are in Tokyo! Zojo-ji Temple is about 15 minutes away from Andaz Tokyo.

Andaz Hotel Tokyo


Atago Shrine


Atago Shrine is a historical shrine, established over 400 years ago. In order to get to the shrine, you will have to climb up a steep flight of 86 stairs, which is known as “stone steps to success.” It is such a beautiful and peaceful shrine that visitors can relax, reflect, and meditate. There is also a small teahouse next to the shrine, and it is very inviting. It was late summer when we visited, so we had a shaved ice at the teahouse. It was delicious!



Shimbashi 


Shimbashi is one of our favorite places to drink in Tokyo. There are hundreds of traditional pubs and restaurants, both Japanese and Western, and their price tends to be very reasonable. It is a popular place to drink so it gets always crowded during night. In fact, Shimbashi is known as the salarymen (office workers) capital of Tokyo. The atmosphere is also unique and interesting. Even if you don’t drink or dine, it it fun to just walk around and take some photos!



Overall


Our favorite part of our stay was the amazing customer service – the staff are very friendly and go out of their way to offer recommendations and directions to various points of interest.  I have stayed in luxury hotels all over Japan, and I can honestly say that Andaz Hotel Tokyo is one of the most luxurious and beautiful properties I have ever stayed at. If you are looking for the best place to stay in Tokyo, you should definitely pay them a visit!


Check rates and availability: Andaz Tokyo


If you want to check out other amazing hotel in Tokyo, click here .


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Best Place to Stay in Tokyo

Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo

Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo

Tokyo is always my favorite place to go shopping, and Ginza is no exception.  Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo is conveniently located in the center of Ginza, which allowed us to walk anywhere from countless department stores and restaurants to the famed Tsukiji Market. It’s a very classic, modern, and super trendy hotel from the moment you step through the doors.

 

Classic Interior

Besides the location, the most attractive aspect about this hotel is their artistic interior.  The lobby is very welcoming with natural light and high ceilings.  I fell in love with how they incorporated natural elements with such an artistic atmosphere.

Hyatt Centric Ginza Lobby

Hyatt Centric Ginza Lobby

 

The Room

The hotel offers 8 different types of room which ranges from ¥5,4000-350,000+ (JPY) a night depending on the season. I stayed in the King Bed Room which is around $480+ USD a night.  The rooms are spacious with separate shower/bathtub and toilet. The bed was very comfortable and there were electronically controlled blackout shades which offer privacy.  I particularly liked the high-tech Nespresso machine to make coffee in the morning.

We also had a chance to go to their Namiki Suite, and the room was amazing! They had a spacious kitchen and a dining room, plus their own personal terrace overlooking Namiki-dori Street.

Hyatt Centric Ginza Room

Hyatt Centric Ginza Room

Hyatt Centric Ginza Room

Hyatt Centric Ginza Room

Hyatt Centric Ginza Room

 

Dining

They have an amazing bar called “NAMIKI 667 Bar & Lounge”.  The bar is very inviting and has a wide selection for various cocktails and wines.  They also offer delicious food to enjoy.  It is a great place to unwind or simply enjoy conversation with friends.

Their breakfast buffet was also outstanding.  There were lots of choices, and all foods were well presented, fresh, and excellent quality.  My favorite dish was definitely the egg benedict with croissant. It was one of the best I have had in my life!

Hyatt Centric Ginza Dining

Hyatt Centric Ginza Breakfast

Hyatt Centric Ginza Breakfast

 

 

Attractions

 

Around the hotel

Hyatt Centric Ginza Neighborhood

Hyatt Centric Ginza Neighborhood

Ginza Six

 

Ginza Six

 

Hyatt Centric Ginza Neighborhood

Hyatt Centric Ginza Neighborhood

 

Tsukiji Market

 

Tsukiji

 

Tsukiji Hongan-ji

 

Tsukiji Hongan-ji

Tsukiji Hongan-ji

I loved my stay at Hyatt Centric Ginza! If you have plans to come to Tokyo anytime soon, I highly recommend staying at Hyatt Centric Ginza and spend time shopping around the area!  For any questions about where to go, please leave a comment below!

XOXO,

Yoki

 

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Hotel Review: Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo